Written by Sabrina Dougall Reviewed by Natasha Willett Updated on 3 July 2023 On this page Quick comparison: Best online store tools 1. Shopify: Best for multiple inventory locations 2. Wix: Best for bookings and services 3. BigCommerce: Lowest transaction fees 4. Square: Best free plan 5. Squarespace: Best looking online stores How We Test Ecommerce Website Builders Expert verdict FAQs Expand Our site is reader-supported – by clicking our links, we can match you with a potential supplier, and we may earn a small commission for this referral. When we tested online stores, we found 👑 Shopify is the best for small businesses. But read on for more recommendations, depending on your specific needs. What are the best ecommerce platforms? Shopify: Best for multiple inventory locationsWix: Best for bookings and servicesBigCommerce: Lowest transaction feesSquare: Best free planSquarespace: Best looking online storesClick any of the above links to go straight to the provider's website where you can try a free trial.We know you're not a web design expert, and you don't want to spend hours writing out sales tax calculations by hand.Instead, you need a user-friendly website that sells your products plus an easy-to-manage inventory system.That's why we've done the hard work, testing and comparing the market-leading online store tools. Below, you’ll find our comparison table followed by individual reviews for each platform. Quick comparison: Best online store tools Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward Shopify 👑 Wix BigCommerce Square Online Squarespace Score 4.7 Score 4.9 Score 4.4 Score 4.4 Score 4.3 Best For Advanced sales features Best For SEO support Best For Multichannel selling Best For Payment integrations Best For Image-heavy websites Price Range Paying for one year upfront £5-£344/monthDeal: First three months for £1 each(Enterprise pricing available) Price Range Paying for one year upfront £14-£119/month£12.60-£107.10 with code “GET10!”(Enterprise pricing available) Price Range Paying for one year upfront £23-£240/month(Converted from USD; Enterprise pricing available) Price Range Paying for one year upfront £0-64/month(Enterprise pricing available) Price Range Paying for one year upfront £12-£35/month£10.80-£31.50/month with code: EM10 Transaction fees 0.5%-2% Transaction fees 0% Transaction fees 0% Transaction fees 1.4% + 25p (UK cards)2.5% + 25p (non-UK cards)(Rates are lower for Premium plan) Transaction fees 3%-0% Free Trial Free Trial Free Trial Free Trial Free Trial Try Shopify Try Wix Try BigCommerce Try Square Try Squarespace 1. Shopify: Best for multiple inventory locationsSubscription pricing: Mid-to-highTransaction fees: Fairly highEase of use: 3.5/5 Pros Up to 1,000 inventory locations Good shipping discounts Marketing automations Cons Lots of fees Limited customer service Limited staff accounts Suited to: Ambitious sellers with a growing turnoverShopify is one of the most famous online selling platforms available today. The reason it appeals so widely is because it targets entrepreneurs and small business leaders with a growth mindset. If you've sourced your products, decided on your branding, and looking to scale up your sales, then Shopify has the toolkit you need.This year Shopify released its AI writing tool Shopify Magic, which we found effective in crafting creative prose for our product descriptions. While Wix has a similar AI text generator, it doesn't offer the same range of tones of voice as Shopify's tool.Shopify includes a library of free stock images for you to use.We recommend Shopify over BigCommerce for sellers with dozens of inventory storage spots. Why? Shopify can cope with up to 1,000 inventory locations (on all plans), whereas BigCommerce facilitates selling and distribution from just four, five or eight (depending on your plan). Wix, on the other hand, isn't known for its inventory management.Shopify pricing Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward Starter Basic Shopify Advanced Shopify Shopify Plus Price (billed annually) £5/month Price (billed annually) £19/monthFirst three months for £1 each Price (billed annually) £259/monthFirst three months for £1 each Price (billed annually) £1,640+/month Best For Selling on social media Best For Starting a small online store Best For International sellers Best For High volume retailers Key Features Get shoppable links (URLs)Product pagesBasic order management5% + 25p online credit card rates Key Features Sell an unlimited number of productsUp to two usersSell in 33 currencies (2% conversion fee) Key Features 15 staff accountsThird-party calculated shipping ratesCollect import taxesAdvanced reporting Key Features Faster checkoutAutomate workflowsSecurity and compliancePriority support Transaction Fees 5% Transaction Fees 2% Transaction Fees 0.5% Transaction Fees 0.15–0.30% Let's get you started on creating your online shop Go to Shopify In terms of costs, Shopify pricing is not the most generous on the market. Although it offers a really accessible entry price point (its Starter plan is £5 monthly), that comes with 5% transaction fees when you're signed up to Shopify Payments.You'll have to pay transaction fees and payment processing fees for every sale across all plans. That's not the case with Square or BigCommerce.We've gone into more detail in our Shopify review, in case you're still undecided. Otherwise read on for more options. 2. Wix: Best for bookings and servicesSubscription pricing: Mid-to-lower endTransaction fees: Just the standard credit card ratesEase of use: 4/5 Pros Accept deposits and pre-orders Bookings with multi-calendar synch AI assisted web design Cons Maximum 50,000 products Restricted storage space Capped sales tax automation Suited to: Services-based business leadersWix tops our website builder list thanks to the wide range of features, but dips into second place when we consider its sales platform. The reason is its selling features are slightly less generous – Wix limits the number of transactions with automated sales tax, for instance.Still, we're excited about Wix's use of AI, such as the text generator to speed up content creation. AI assists in the set up process too, with Wix suggesting features you'll need based on your industry.Stuck for inspiration? Wix has a built-in AI text generator for product descriptions.Here are some examples:If you run a restaurant: table reservations, food delivery, menu listingsHotel managers: season-specific room pricing, list add-on services at extra costFitness enthusiast: bookings (in person or online) via Wix Fit, subscriber-only content, automated remindersCreative professionals: membership areas with paywall content, video streamingWix is better for the services industry compared to Square, because the latter isn't set up for paid members-only pages. Just the Ticket! If you're selling tickets, then Wix takes a 2.5% commission from every sale.Wix pricingWix offers a 14-day free trial period on its premium plans, of which there are three ecommerce-specific options: Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward Light Core Business Business Elite Price (billed annually) £7.50/month£6.75/month with code: GET10! Price (billed annually) £14/month£12.60/month with code: GET10! Price (billed annually) £20/month£18/month with code: GET10! Price (billed annually) £119/month£107.10/month with code: GET10! Best For Basic small business website Best For A small online store Best For Expanding online sellers Best For Fast-moving online stores Key Features No online store2GB storageNo Wix adsFree domain (1 year)Customer data forms Key Features 50GB storageFree domain (1 year)Sell products, video, music1 auto backup/monthBasic gift cards Key Features 100GB storageFree domain (1 year)Sales tax automationPrint shipping labelsSell in 6 currencies Key Features Unlimited storageFree domain (1 year)Loyalty rewardsPriority customer supportCustom reports Take payments? Take payments? Take payments? Take payments? Gain more customers for your business with a new website Go to Wix Wix is very similar in pricing to Squarespace, with Squarespace Business costing £17 per month (compared with Wix Core at £14 per month). But Wix could prove cheaper as Squarespace charges 3% transaction fees on its Business plan, whereas Wix charges no equivalent fees.We've created a Wix pricing page if you want to look more closely at costs. The number of Wix stores grew by 37% in the first quarter of 2023 compared with 2022 Join Wix 3. BigCommerce: Lowest transaction feesSubscription pricing: Good range of optionsTransaction fees: None (only processing fees for debit and credit cards from 1.20% + 30p)Ease of use: 3.3/5 Pros Sell on Amazon, Walmart, eBay Limitless products, storage, staff accounts Sell in multiple currencies Cons Limited product filtering Extra cost for more storefronts Few free templates Suited to: Product retailers with a wide customer baseIf your products are popular with everyday shoppers across Amazon, eBay, Facebook, and Instagram, then BigCommerce is a convenient platform to manage orders from all of these streams. With Shopify, you'd need to install apps (at extra cost) to achieve the same multichannel sales set up.But the best bonus of all has to be the lack of transaction fees (which rival Shopify charges) on top of regular card processing fees.Another advantage of BigCommerce is the opportunity to speak with its web platform experts on its easily accessible phone line. That means it's much easier to access customer support on BigCommerce than it is on Wix (you'd need to request a callback through a customer service ticket on the latter).It should be mentioned that BigCommerce is really aimed at larger sales operations. Meaning if you want priority customer support and assistance with API connections, then you'll need to be on the high price Enterprise plan. Otherwise you can turn to the community forums and online guides for basic support.BigCommerce pricingYou get a generous 15-day free trial when you sign up to BigCommerce for the first time. Here are the price plans: Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward Standard Recommended: Best Value Plus Pro Price (billed annually) $29/month (around £23) Price (billed annually) $79/month (around £63) Price (billed annually) $299/month (around £240) Best For Starting a small or medium-sized online store Best For Growing your online store Best For Scaling your business to new heights Key Features Sell an unlimited number of productsMultichannel sellingCoupon creationReporting tools Key Features Abandoned cart recovery emailsCustomer loyalty programmesStore credit card payment details Key Features Filter products through size and colour variantsDedicated SSL securityGoogle reviews Try Now Try Now Try Now BigCommerce charges in US dollars, and its pricing is very similar to Shopify's, although BigCommerce currently works out cheaper (at the time of writing) due to exchange rate differences. BigCommerce generally charges lower transaction fees than Shopify (if you don't use Shopify Payments).Still, on BigCommerce's Standard plan, you'll pay fees of 2.90% + 30p per PayPal UK transaction. Other payment fees apply, including Barclaycard negotiated rates from 1% + 15p. 4. Square: Best free planSubscription pricing: AffordableTransaction fees: Industry standardEase of use: 3.9/5 Pros Take payments on free plan Integrates well with POS (card reader) Automatic tax calculation Cons No membership log-in areas Limited web editing on cheaper plans Unsuitable for international selling Suited to: Small-to-medium sellers and local businessesYou'll likely have seen Square's sleek white card readers at bars and stores in your neighbourhood. It's a popular choice of payment terminal, likely due to its very low cost basic hardware. Its website builder product is affordable too – you can sign up to sell online with no monthly subscription fees on the Square Free plan.I couldn't quite position my image as I would have liked it to display.The drawback of the Free plan is the basic nature of the editing tools. You won't have as much design customization as you would with Square Plus. And you'll have Square-branded adverts on your site.But given how speedy, slick and clear Square's free website builder is, we have little to complain about here.Overall, though, Square's sales features are not nearly as comprehensive as those of BigCommerce. For $79 a month you can subscribe to BigCommerce Plus, which is very close to Square Online Premium at £64 per month. But only BigCommerce stores accept payments in multiple currencies. And BigCommerce stores customers' payment details for a faster checkout (unlike Square).Square pricingSquare has three price plans to choose from: Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward Free Plus Premium Price (billed annually) £0/month Price (billed annually) £20/month Price (billed annually) £64/month Best For Smaller businesses Best For Scaling up a small business Best For Customer service-focused sales Key Features Sell unlimited productsInstagram and Pinterest integration Key Features Free domain (one year)Accept PayPalNo Square adverts on your website Key Features Lower card transaction feesReal time postage pricing Transaction Fees 1.4% + 25p (UK cards)2.5% + 25p (non-UK cards) Transaction Fees 1.4% + 25p (UK cards)2.5% + 25p (non-UK cards) Transaction Fees 1.4% + 15p (UK cards)2.5% + 15p (non-UK cards) Sell fast, and deliver to more customers with your new Square online shop Try Square 5. Squarespace: Best looking online storesSubscription pricing: Lower endTransaction fees: ReasonableEase of use: 4.2/5 Pros World class template designs Precise web design editing Unlimited bandwidth Cons Very few apps available Transaction fees on Commerce Basic No multi-currency selling Suited to: Artisan or specialist curators with infrequent salesSquarespace works well as a portfolio website, showcasing the aesthetics of your brand with classy web design. Think of your Squarespace website as a virtual art gallery: lots of white space, few features, and impeccable taste.Squarespace will suggest designs based on your business.It's not ideal for high-volume sales or aggressive marketing. Reason being you won't get features like abandoned cart recovery emails, real-time shipping rates or even the ability to sell subscriptions until you're signed up to Commerce Advanced (£23 per month).That said, editing your web design is a really pleasant experience. Unlike many website editors we've tested (see our GoDaddy review for comparison), you can actually move every text box or image to the precise position you'd like.Squarespace updated its editing experience this year so that a grid appears in the background when you click and drag design elements. This makes it easy to line them up evenly with others on the page.Squarespace PricingThere are four Squarespace price plans to choose from, all of which are relatively low cost compared with the larger platforms Shopify and BigCommerce: Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward Personal Business Commerce Basic Commerce Advanced Price (billed annually) £12/month Price (billed annually) £17/month Price (billed annually) £23/month Price (billed annually) £35/month Best For Early stage entrepreneurs Best For Small businesses Best For SMBs looking to sell online Best For Growing retail businesses Key Features Free domain (1 year)Unlimited bandwidth and storageCollect visitor dataVideo maker Key Features Sell unlimited number of productsFree domain (1 year)Free Gmail (1 year)Pop-ups and banners Key Features Collect reviewsProduct waitlistsFree Gmail (1 year)Free domain (1 year) Key Features Abandoned cart recoverySell subscriptionsLocal shipping ratesAPIs for custom integrations You'll struggle to find a better-looking website than a Squarespace one Try Squarespace You may have noticed Squarespace pricing is similar to Wix, and they're near competitors because of their focus on design and style. You wouldn't come to either for complex inventory management and warehouse services, for instance.Squarespace Commerce Basic costs £23 per month, while Wix Core costs £14 per month. Yet with Wix you'll get 5 hours of video storage versus 30 minutes with Squarespace. You'll also get slightly better selling features from Wix at this price point, including abandoned cart recovery emails, applying discounts automatically, and the ability to accept pre-orders.But if you want to sell more than 50,000 products, you should choose Squarespace over Wix. And if product reviews are important to you, Squarespace is the better choice once again, as Wix limits these. How We Test Ecommerce Website Builders for BusinessesWe tested eight market-leading ecommerce website builders to evaluate them in terms of functionality, usability, accuracy, and aesthetics so we can make the most useful recommendations to UK businesses.Our rigorous testing process means these products have been scored and rated in seven main categories of investigation and 47 subcategories – in fact, we covered 341 areas of investigation in total. We then gave each category score a ‘relevance weighting' to ensure the product's final score perfectly reflects the needs and requirements of Expert Market readers – and that's our product testing algorithm in a nutshell!Our main testing categories for ecommerce website builders are:Website Features: the capabilities and functionalities offered by an ecommerce website builder, e.g. blog functionality, SEO capability, and marketing capacity.Sales Features: the sales capabilities and sales functionalities offered by an ecommerce website builder, including shipping, inventory capacity, and payment options.Design: the aesthetic appeal and visual layout of a website created using the website builder. It encompasses aspects such as page templates and customisable themes.Customer Score: external customer opinion; the feedback and ratings given by customers who have used a particular ecommerce builder – the market position and reputation a builder holds.Ease of Use: how user-friendly and intuitive an ecommerce website builder is for people with varying levels of technical expertise.Value for Money: the balance between the cost of an ecommerce website builder and the benefits it provides. It considers factors such as pricing plans, subscription models, and available features.Help and Support: the assistance and resources available to users when they encounter issues or need guidance while using an ecommerce website builder. This can include tutorials, knowledge bases, and email or chat support. Expert verdict Our research found Shopify is the best site to set up an online store in 2023. Although it's pricier than most, it's got the advanced selling tools you need to scale up in the competitive arena of ecommerce.As we've mentioned, Shopify is best for SMEs with ambitious growth plans. Therefore we wouldn't recommend it for budding startups without a clear product portfolio.Local businesses that sell services, subscriptions, and paid appointments are better off with Wix. We favour Wix for bookings and other face-to-face business ventures, thanks to its convenient scheduling features. FAQs What is an ecommerce platform? It's a proprietary set of tools that allow you to sell things online, either directly to customers or, in some cases, to other businesses. More simply, an ecommerce platform is an online store. It usually consists of a website that's customized to suit the particular product offering. Often it's linked to other digital sales channels, such as social media shopping and marketplaces like Amazon, Google Shopping, Walmart or Etsy. Which ecommerce platform is the best for small business? Shopify is the best online sales platform for small businesses that are looking to scale up their sales. It scored 4.7/5 in our thorough research of ecommerce platforms, taking the top spot above Wix, BigCommerce, and Square Online.Best suited to those with a clear business plan, Shopify has advanced sales features and marketing automations to increase revenue from online customers. Which is the cheapest ecommerce platform? Square is the most affordable route to setting up your online sales. You can actually publish a custom online store and take payments from customers without paying any monthly subscription fees. You'll only pay when you sell (a transaction fee of 1.4% + 25pper UK card on the Free or Plus plans). Note that you can't accept PayPal payments until you upgrade to Square Plus. Written by: Sabrina Dougall Web Marketing Expert Sabrina is a business journalist whose career began in news reporting. She has a master's in Investigative Journalism from City University London, and her work has appeared in The Times, The Daily Express, Money Saving Expert, Camden New Journal, Global Trade Review, and Computer Business Review. She specializes in writing about SEO (search engine optimization). Having run her own small business, Sabrina knows first-hand how critical digital marketing is to building a client base and local reputation. Reviewed by: Natasha Willett Head of Research For over 9 years Natasha has worked as a mixed method researcher working across a range of sectors from insurance and policy development, to business services and software. As a member of the Market Research Society, Natasha is an advocate for high ethical, commercial and methodological best practices.